updated 01:00 pm EST, Tue January 30, 2007
NME brings VMD into HD
The HD formats backed by Sony and Toshiba may soon face some unexpected competition in the form of HD VMD, developed by New Medium Enterprises. Though VMD discs have existed for a while, capable of holding up to five times the data of a DVD9 disc, the company has only just announced their HD format, which will be unique in that the discs can be played by a red laser, as well as the blue lasers used in Blu-Ray and HD DVD. The advantage of this is cost, since most of the world's manufacturing architecture is still built around standard DVDs. The format will of course be accompanied by its own set of players: the HD VMD Media Player Duo, which only supports 9GB discs, and the Quattro, which supports up to 20GB. Custom authoring and playback software is in development, and the drives will also play standard CDs and DVDs.
NME notes that HD VMD should be very flexible, supporting the MPEG-2, VC-1 and H.264 video codecs, as well as DTS, PCM and Dolby Digital audio. Resolutions can run up to 1080p at transfer rates reaching 40Mbps, with up-conversion being applied to standard-definition discs. Region codes and AES encryption will be optional, and it's expected that several open-source codecs will be included in the future. No precise date has been set for the HD VMD launch.